Man United Man Has Given His All But It’s Time He Left Old Trafford

When Jose Mourinho approved a new Manchester United deal for midfielder Marouane Fellaini, it was probably the beginning of the end for the Portuguese boss at Old Trafford.

Towards the end of last season Jose would state to The Independent:

“I want to see the white paper with the United crest and Ed Woodward’s signature and Marouane Fellaini’s signature.”

That kind of statement showed a lot of Man United fans that Mourinho wasn’t prepared to evolve and play the ‘Manchester United Way’.

The Belgian international has given his all for the club but at no point since his arrival in 2013 has he looked like a proper Man United star.

Mourinho, and Louis van Gaal before him, would often use the big midfielder as a battering ram or a Plan B. His strength and height would be used if games needed to be changed, with long balls up to Marouane being the order of that particular day.

In some occasions it would work extremely well, with Fellaini rescuing United from whichever whole they’d found themselves in. The most recent evidence of this was the midfielder’s late winner in Man Utd’s Champions League win over Young Boys, a goal that would secure The Red Devils safe passage into the all important knockout stages.

Fellaini would also help defensively when the team were under attack, again using his aerial strength to his and his side’s advantage. He’s also a player that can spoil games, when other brighter teams are looking to play football.

Now the issue is that under new interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the club’s need for that type of midfielder is no longer evident.

Solskjaer wants to bring an attacking philosophy back to Old Trafford and that style requires pace, pressing and passing, not really playing to Marouane’s strong points. If anything he can become a hinderance in this kind of set-up and a distraction.

According to a recent report in The Mirror, United could be willing to offload Fellaini if they get a bid in excess of £15m for the player during this transfer window. The same article has stated that AC Milan, FC Porto and Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande are all interested in the thirty-one year old.

It has been very telling that Ole has been reluctant to give the Belgian international game time since the Norwegian coach’s arrival. Fellaini made a brief substitute appearance in Solskjaer’s first game in charge against Cardiff City and then had another cameo in the FA Cup against Reading.

The giant midfield man wasn’t even in United’s 18 man squad for their vital Premier League match against Tottenham Hotspur last weekend. The Red Devils fought hard to hang onto their 1-0 win, yet unlike during the Mourinho or Van Gaal eras the manager on this occasion didn’t throw on Fellaini to spoil the game and see out the result.

I don’t think Manchester United fans should cheer the potential departure of Marouane Fellaini. The Belgian gave them his all and when some of their creative talent struggled on the big stage, he at least provided heart and goals at important times.

That being said, his time at Old Trafford should be coming to an end. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has shown that Man United can once again play a fast, attacking game that excites their faithful and can get positive results.

I simply don’t think Marouane Fellaini can fit into that style!

 

Potential Attacking Options And Transfers For Tottenham Hotspur To Consider

Tottenham Hotspur’s manager Mauricio Pochettino has a major headache as he’s currently without top-scorers Harry Kane and Heung-Min Son.

The duo have been the club’s main source for goals this term. Harry has scored fourteen Premier League strikes and created four assists. While Son has banged in eight league goals and set-up five assists for teammates.

Kane has suffered from yet another ankle injury, his fourth ankle problem since 2016, and will probably be out for the next two months. South Korean international Heung-Min has departed for the Asian Cup and that could see him out until the first week in February.

So how will Spurs cope with the loss of two influential forwards?

Well they could dive into the January transfer market and get a new recruit in before the window shuts.

Tottenham didn’t sign anyone during the summer window and money seems to be tight as The Lilywhites get closer to moving into their new stadium.

The Tottenham Hotspur twitter feed have today announced that the club have reached an agreement with Chinese Super League side Guangzhou R&F to sell Belgian midfielder Mousa Dembele:

According to BBC Sport, the deal should bring £11m into the London club’s coffers.

If Tottenham do decide to go out and bring in a new forward to bolster numbers then they won’t be going all out and spending huge money on a back-up.

With that in mind, two names could be attracting their interest.

Teamtalk have linked The White Hart Lane side with a move for Liverpool attacker Divock Origi.

That move would make some sense for Spurs. He’s still a young player at twenty-three and he has shown us glimpses that given opportunities he can cause problems. He’s mainly been used as a substitute during his time at Anfield and has scored thirteen league goals in fifty-three appearances.

Origi is a forward that possesses both power and speed, he can also score with his head. You’d imagine that he’d thrive with a top-class creator like Christian Eriksen providing him the best ammunition possible. He’d also be a striker that could link-up with an Erik Lamela or a Lucas Moura playing in and around him.

The Belgian international only has eighteen months left on his current deal and isn’t considered a first-team regular under Jurgen Klopp but the big question is would Liverpool sell him to another top four side?

The Lilywhites could look to The Championship for a back-up option and chase a striker that Pochettino knows well in Jay Rodriguez.

Rodriguez worked under the Spurs boss at Southampton and flourished. His performances at The Saints during that period saw Jay receive an England cap. He was linked heavily with a move to Spurs before injury struck.

Unfortunately serious injury then curtailed his career and he struggled to hit top form again. But Rodriguez has played consistently in the past two seasons for West Bromwich Albion, this term he’s scored thirteen goals in England’s second tier.

According to Whoscored, the English forward averages 2.5 shots per game and he wins around 2 aerial duels per outing.

Jay Rodriguez would bring with him Premier League pedigree and he knows how Pochettino works. He’s also more mobile than current back-up striker Fernando Llorente.

Can Mauricio go with what he’s got? 

Llorente is an experienced forward that knows how to lead the line.

At thirty-three years of age, the Spaniard isn’t getting any younger and can’t stretch defences. Fernando is more of a focal point and will need to have the likes of Dele Alli, Lamela and Moura playing around him and do a lot of the running.

The Spanish striker hasn’t been used a lot this season, playing only thirty-six minutes in the league. So you’ve got to imagine that his match fitness won’t be at it’s best.

It might be time for Dutchman Vincent Janssen to prove himself in a Tottenham Hotspur jersey.

The striker signed after a prolific season with AZ Alkmaar but he’d only grab six goals in thirty-one games for Spurs. He also struggled last year during a loan spell at Fenerbahce and has his own injury problems at the moment. I’m not sure the Spurs faithful will believe he’s the answer!

Another possibility could be making do without a recognised frontman.

Lucas Moura played well at the start of this campaign playing through the middle, with Harry Kane being deployed deeper. Lucas would score three times in six games in that position.

So maybe Pochettino could play Lucas or Lamela in that role and have Dele Alli as the number ten being a link up man and a player that could support a makeshift striker.

Mauricio Pochettino isn’t scared of trying something different and he does believe in his squad, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he went for a false nine or use a makeshift front-man.

It’s certainly going to be intriguing to see how the Spurs coach deals with missing his two top forwards for the foreseeable future.

What Chelsea Would Be Getting If They Signed This Argentine Midfielder

Chelsea have room in their squad to add a new midfielder to the ranks.

The Blues waved goodbye to veteran midfielder Cesc Fabregas earlier this month, with the Spaniard going AS Monaco, and they could venture into the transfer market to bring in a replacement.

Now they could give more game time to youngster Ethan Ampadu, Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri has hinted as much but as we know The Blues like readymade recruits.

The Mirror are stating that the Premier League giants are in talks with Zenit Saint Petersburg over midfielder Leandro Parades, with a fee of £24m being rumoured.

So what would the Stamford Bridge club be getting if they were to purchase Parades? 

Well the defensive midfielder has nine international caps for his native Argentina. He made the preliminary squad for last summer’s World Cup but was omitted from the final selection.

He started his career with Argentine superpower side Boca Juniors.

Before his move to Russia, Leandro spent three years in Italy playing for Empoli, AS Roma and Chievo. His spell in Serie A will have caught the attention of Sarri.

He’s a tenacious middle-man that puts his foot in but his fierce tackling doesn’t go unnoticed with referees. He’s picked up six yellow cards in fifteen Russian Premier League games so far this term. Going by that, he’ll have to work on improving his disciplinary record if he were to arrive in England.

Jorginho had a fantastic start to the season at The Bridge but the former Napoli man has since had a dip in form. I believe that the Italian international will come good again but it might be better if he’s got competition for his place and gets a much needed rest.

That competition could come from Leandro Parades.

The twenty-four year old is a holding player that can pass the ball. Whoscored have his passing success rates up at 87.5%. He’s also capable of dribbling the ball forward and picking out key passes. The player can even venture forward and get a goal too. In his forty-three appearances in the Russian top flight, Parades has scored seven times and created seven assists.

We all know that Maurizio enjoys playing with a holding midfielder that keeps the ball moving, have plenty of touches and is efficient with their passing.

French World Cup winner N’Golo Kante has been shifted out onto the right because his passing isn’t smart or quick enough.

Sarri might believe that Ampadu isn’t ready to take on the role on a regular basis, he said this about the subject to The Metro:

‘Of course, playing as a central midfielder in our team is not easy. We need to try and try and try in training, but I think that he (Ethan Ampadu) is able to do it.

‘In the future maybe [he can play the Jorginho role], but we have to work.

‘The player who plays in that position usually touches about 120, 130 balls [per game], and so I think we need a specialist there.’

Parades could be seen as that readymade specialist.

He’s a player that can dictate play and create from a deep role. His vision for a pass can be sublime and he has the quality to rake a ball out to either wing and start dangerous attacks. The Argentine is also composed when under pressure, take the ball beyond opponents with a neat dribble and he’s also dangerous from set-piece positions. 

If Chelsea want to bring in added competition for the defensive midfield berth, one that can also be used as a deep laying play-maker, then Leandro Paredes would certainly offer that and more. 

If The Blues can bring him in for a fee of £24m then I think that would be a smart move. I just hope that Maurizio Sarri still finds the time to give Ethan Ampadu his chances at Stamford Bridge. 

 

 

Rangers Need To Play Jermain Defoe In Scottish Cup Clash With Cowdenbeath

Rangers return to action after their winter break this Friday night, as they take on Cowdenbeath in the fourth round of the Scottish Cup.

They’ll have two new faces in their squad for that tie, with veterans Jermain Defore and Steven Davis arriving from the English Premier League.

While Northern Ireland captain Davis has history with both Rangers and Scottish football, Defoe hasn’t had that opportunity yet.

I think the away trip to Fife could be an ideal way to introduce the England international to our game north of the border.

Playing against the Scottish League Two side, Defoe can expect to see the blood and thunder that comes with playing in Scotland. He’ll also quickly see that certain sides will pack their defences when they come up against The Gers and that teams raise their game against the Glasgow giants.

The prolific striker’s also desperately needs minutes on the pitch.

At AFC Bournemouth this term, Jermain was restricted to just four substitute appearances in the league. The experienced forward also managed to play four games in The Cherries League Cup campaign. Defoe will want to get many more minutes at Ibrox and he’ll also be itching to get back on the scoresheet. The sooner that happens the better, in my opinion.

My advice would be getting him into the team as soon as possible and that should aid him as he tries to quickly settle into life in Govan and help his new team challenge for the Scottish Premiership title.

If he’s fit enough to play sixty minutes or more, then I think Light Blues boss Steven Gerrard should start his former teammate.

The Gers gaffer recently told Rangers TV that Defoe’s arrival gave him new options for his front-line:

“It’s so exciting to have the options because we haven’t really had that,”

“We’ve only really had one or two ways of playing and we’ve tended to stick with that.”

I understand Gerrard’s enthusiasm and think it would be very worthwhile playing two up-top against The Blue Brazil at Central Park but I’d be more inclined to give Alfredo Morelos the night off and start with Jermian alongside Kyle Lafferty in an forward two.

Morelos has been in great form this term but he’s probably been overused due to a lack of credible options in the Gers squad. Having Defoe and a returning Ryan Hardie in the ranks gives Steven Gerrard the chance to rest Alfredo for such games.

Lafferty would offer up a good foil for Defoe and he could also run the channels for the thirty-six year old hitman. It would also be intriguing to see how well the big man/wee man attacking partnership would work out.

There’s plenty of excitement surround the new Rangers number nine and the player himself will be keen to get started. With all that in mind, then why not get him on the park for the Scottish Cup game and help him regain his match sharpness?

Man United Defender Is Finally Proving Himself At Old Trafford

For much of his debut season at Manchester United, Swedish defender Victor Lindelof seemed like a deer caught in the headlights.

The centre-back looked too weak to handle the rigours of the Premier League and always seemed to have a mistake or two in him.

Former United gaffer Jose Mourinho would often change his central defence pairings and that lack of continuity certainly didn’t help the former Benfica man as he looked to settle in at Old Trafford.

At the start of this term it looked as the Swede was still a weak-link and nowhere near worth the €35m that The Red Devils had splashed out for him in 2017.

But as Man United become more confident and comfortable under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Lindelof is also starting to look like a brighter prospect that might come good after all.

In fairness, even by the time of Ole’s arrival Victor seemed to have turned a corner. Even under Jose for the final month or so the centre-back was probably United’s best performing central defender at Old Trafford.

Lindelof has started seventeen league games this season, out of a possible twenty-two, including in all of the top flight games under fellow Scandinavian Solskjaer. I believe that this run of games has helped build up the twenty-four year old’s confidence and he’s starting to believe in himself again.

In United’s win over Tottenham Hotspur yesterday, United had a lot to thank their goalkeeper David de Gea for but Lindelof also impressed at the back. Fellow centre-back Phil Jones had a few nervy moments but that didn’t faze Victor.

The Man Utd defender has improved in the air and that was evident against Spurs, as no one won more headers than the Swede.

This season, Lindelof has been efficient with the ball at his feet recording a passing success rate of 87%.

He’s winning 1.8 aerial duels per game, making on average 1.4 successful tackles per league outing and around 1 interception too. His best defensive stat (via Whoscored) has been his clearances, which stand at 4 clearances per game!

His defensive stats (clearances/tackles/interceptions/aerials won) have all improved from last term and he’s already started more games during this campaign than he managed for the whole of last season.

A major boost is that the international defender isn’t making the same silly mistakes as he was and he’s certainly not making the same amount of errors either. He’s matured and his positional sense has been much better too.

His recent performances haven’t gone unnoticed with the Red Devils supporters either:

Interim manager Solskjaer stated in the Mirror recently that he was a fan of Victor’s and that the defender knew how to play out from the back:

“He’s a cultured, European centre back who gets on the ball, passes it really well, knows when to quicken things up.

“It is different to play in England and you have time to adapt.”

Do Man United still need a top drawer centre-half? Yes definitely.

But the emergence of a stronger, brighter Victor Lindelof means that Manchester United might now have an automatic starter to star alongside that potential new recruit!

Manchester United Interim Boss Solskjaer Passes First Major Test!

Manchester United suffered from a few nervy moments as they held on to beat Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at Wembley this evening.

It was interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first major test against one of the Premier League’s top five sides and he managed to guide his side to a very important victory. Ole has now won six out of six as United’s gaffer and that’s the first time any Man Utd boss has managed that feat.

In truth, it was a game of two halves as United edged the first period before Spurs dominated the game in the second half.

At times after the the break, it was more like Tottenham versus David de Gea rather than Man United. The Red Devils goalkeeper was in sensational form as he constantly thwarted the Spurs attack.

According to Whoscored, the Spanish goalie made eleven saves and collected the ball on four occasions.

While the United backline looked uncomfortable at times during the second forty-five minutes they were strong in the opening half. They were compact, got in front of shots and made tackles. The defence were helped out by midfielders Nemanja Matic and Ander Herrera. They would drop deep whenever Spurs ventured into their half and that restricted space in the final third.

Tottenham actually performed better when Christian Eriksen played a bit deeper in midfield. That allowed the Dane to get onto the ball and have space to look up and pick out a good pass, allowing Spurs to get the ball into dangerous positions quicker.

United’s defence became more settled again for the last ten minutes or so, a big part of that was down to Solskjaer throwing on another defender in Diogo Dalot. They became tighter again at the back and throwing themselves into blocks and challenges.

In fairness to the defence, they’ve managed to keep three cleansheets in their last three fixtures and that’s a big improvement on their early season form.

When the Norwegian coach arrived at Old Trafford, he stated that he wanted to see Man United attacking again (Via The National):

“So why should we stop them? The attacking philosophy is in the walls of Man United. That’s tradition, that’s history, that’s how we play and want to play.”

That mentality brushed aside Cardiff City, Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle United and Reading but it was always going to be different against Spurs.

Ole’s tactics in the first half against Mauricio Pochettino’s side worked a treat. As I said the defence were compact and solid, with the help of the holding midfielders. While the attackers offered good runs and an impact in the final third.

It did change in the second period but United still managed to see out the win and they collected themselves in the last ten minutes. You need luck in the biggest games and United had that too.

It was also noted that Solskjaer had to get the best from his attacking talent. Former boss Jose Mourinho restricted his forward-line and they weren’t as effective as they should’ve been.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given his forward players more freedom and they’ve flourished.

In particular, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba have shone since the caretaker bosses arrival. The duo combined brilliantly to grab the game’s winner; with Pogba producing a word class pass over the top for Rashford to latch onto and finish brilliantly with a stunning strike.

The interim manager has made young English striker Rashford is main attacker and Marcus has rewarded him with four goals in six games.

French World Cup winner Pogba has also been in scintillating form since Solskjaer’s arrival. The midfielder is thriving with his new attacking responsibilities and is playing with a swagger and a smile again. He’s played in Ole’s first five Premier League outings and has contributed with four goals and four assists. Paul looks to be bossing the engine room and becoming the match-winning performer everyone knew he could be.

Make no mistake, under Mourinho, Manchester United would have lost that game today. Yes The Red Devils rode their luck in the second half but they managed to create and take the chance that mattered. They looked hopeless in their earlier games against the other top English sides this term. Getting a win away to Tottenham Hotspur keeps the confidence at a high level and it also shows the rest of the league that Man Utd aren’t a soft touch anymore.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has been terrific since coming in. United are now level on points with fifth placed Arsenal and are getting closer to the top four.

Ole has passed his first big test as a Man United manager and now has a strong foundation to build upon!

Gareth Southgate Would Be An Odd Choice For Manchester United

Sky News have reported that current England manager Gareth Southgate is on Manchester United’s shortlist to become The Red Devils next permanent manager.

Southgate has impressed as The Three Lions boss since he got the job and he guided the side to a World Cup semi-final place last summer. That was a fine achievement and the boss was deservedly praised for organising the team and instilling confidence into his players.

Yet with saying that, I personally believe he’d be an odd choice for Man United.

Now every managerial appointment comes with a certain amount of risk. Both Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford with hugely successful CVs, yet neither could bring the Premier League title back to Old Trafford.

Southgate doesn’t have a club career as a manager that’s much to shout about.

He spent over three years as Middlesbrough’s boss and during that time he had a 29% win percent ratio and couldn’t save Boro from relegation in 2009.

The forty-eight year old coach has been working with The FA since 2013 and he’s known to be positive with younger players, helping the under-21s to win the Toulon Tournament in 2016. Which is an attribute that would catch the eye of Man United’s hierarchy and faithful.

He had that successful run in Russia last year. But when you really look at England’s run they lost twice during that World Cup and they were against the two best teams that they came up against in Croatia and Belgium. So when it really mattered Southgate couldn’t get the right result and he’s still got a point to prove.

Roberto Martinez managed to guide his Belgium side to the semis and also got that win over Gareth’s England team, plus he’s also got more out of Romelu Lukuka than Jose did. Yet I still wouldn’t say he’s got the right credentials to get the Man United job either.

Jurgen Klinsmann, Chris Coleman and Felipe Scolari all had very good records as international bosses but they couldn’t replicate those positive results at Bayern Munich, Sunderland and Chelsea.

Julen Lopetegui enjoyed a 70% winning ratio as the Spanish team manager and got his country to the Word Cup. Yet he decided to leave the post and become the next Real Madrid manager. He would boss Los Blancos for just fourteen games, winning less than half of those fixtures, before getting the sack.

International football is a different beast from the club game. You don’t work day in day out and sometimes that means players don’t get bored of you. It also gives you the chance to pick the best players and bring in the talent that’s in form. At clubs you’re often stuck with the same players for long periods of time.

I can’t see why United would be desperate to get Southgate over the likes of Diego Simeone or Mauricio Pochettino. Those guys have proved themselves at the highest level of club football. They can keep squads together over a season and have players that buy into their philosophies.

I’m also not sure Gareth Southgate will be in a rush to leave his current post. It’s all going well for him at England and he’s got a lot of exciting young players breaking through. Winning Euro 2020 is a real possibility and he could use that tournament to build a strong foundation for the next World Cup. Win something with England and he becomes an instant national legend!

Now if Southgate were to get the Manchester United job, I’m not saying he’d fail. Weirder things have happened.

I just don’t think he’s got the best CV and he’d be a greater risk than some of the others out there.

Unai Emery Needs To Steady The Ship Again At Arsenal

Arsenal huffed and buffed but they couldn’t get anything out of their game against fellow Londoners West Ham United today. On the whole The Hammers probably deserved their three points and Arsenal  looked pretty sluggish after a bright start.

That’s now The Gunners third loss in their last six Premier League games, they also lost to rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the League Cup within the last month.

The recent poor league results see Arsenal sit in fifth position and are just three points ahead of Manchester United (who have a game in hand).

It seemed that Unai Emery had changed this Gunners team into a more reliable outfit that could get the results needed to get back into the top four.

Yet in the last month, they’ve gone back to being that vulnerable side that Arsene Wenger left in the summer of 2018.  Defensively they’re still not right, only six other teams in the league have conceded more than Emery’s men.

The backline has been hampered because of injuries but when you’ve got a problem you need to fix it.

This week Unai Emery came out in The Guardian and stated that he couldn’t buy in this transfer window and was restricted in making just loan signings:

“We cannot sign permanently,”

“We can only loan players. I know the club is working on possibilities of which players can help us with big performances like we need now. I cannot say more.”

That sort of statement will worry Arsenal supporters. The club are in transition and they’ll need to spend money if they are going to become title challengers or even top four hopefuls.

If you need a defender, then you go out and buy one. That’s exactly what Liverpool have done in recent windows and look at them leading the charge now. The chances of you getting a real impact player in the loan market are slim, it’s as simple as that.

They need a right sided forward/winger and a centre-back, if they were to sign two strong players in those key positions then they’d be much better placed to finish in the top four.

The festive period has shown us that they still don’t have the strength in depth needed to challenge the frontrunners. That point was hammered home as they were dismantled by Liverpool at Anfield in December, losing 5-1 to the table toppers.

Instead of looking forward they’re now looking behind them because of a resurgent Man United team.

Arsenal are also being held back with what’s going on with Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey.

Ozil can be the club’s best talent but unfortunately the German doesn’t produce enough match winning performances in the biggest encounters. The attacking midfielder also doesn’t seem to have the work ethic needed to fit into Emery’s playing style. Mesut was missing from today’s match-day squad, with his coach stating (Via The Mirror):

“The players here are better for the match today.”

The problem is that The Gunners gave the thirty year old a huge contract last season. He’s tied to the club until 2021 and is earning around £350k a week. Thus meaning he isn’t an easily sellable asset.

Ramsey is now within the last six months of his contract and Arsenal have decided not to offer him a new deal to stay on at the Emirates. This means he’s free to talk to other clubs and the BBC are reporting that Serie A champions Juventus lead the race for his signature.

These rumours are causing an unwanted distraction and to be honest, Arsenal might be better served trying to do a deal and offload Ramsey this month rather than having him hang around for the rest of the season.

The starting eleven also seem to be missing a leader. I know club captain Laurent Kosielny has returned to the team but he’s not the Tony Adams or Patrick Vieira type that the Gunners have been missing as of late. With twenty minutes to go and being a goal down earlier today, Arsenal still didn’t show any real urgency or determination to get back into the match.

Arsenal are finding themselves with the same issues and problems that they’ve been having for the past few seasons. It could hinder any progress that’s been made under Unai Emery and at the moment it looks like the Spaniard is working with one hand tied behind his back.

If things don’t change and improve then it could be another disappointing year for the North London giants.

Blog Video: Trying To Bring Cathkin Park Back To Life

I had the privilege to visit Cathkin Park last month to meet Simon Weir for Club Development Scotland, a man who spends much of his spare time at Cathkin Park and diligently trying to bring it back to life.

The former stadium still has five parts of terracing and Simon does a variety of maintenance work like cleaning and restoring the terraces, fixing the athletics track and cleaning as much of the place as physically possible.

The former home of Queen’s Park, Scotland and Third Lanark has such a rich history and Simon passionately tells us much about it in this interview. He also tells us his dream to make the site a living and breathing museum.

This is a fantastic video for any ground hopping enthusiast, football historian or lover of Scottish football. It also gave me a chance to use my new DJI Mavic 2 drone and the Osmo Pocket. For a review of the Osmo check-out HDWarrior.

Follow Simon’s endeavours on Twitter (@CathkinPark) or his Blog (https://cathkinparklimited.blogspot.co.uk)

Guinean Midfielder Naby Keita Will Come Good At Liverpool

Naby Keita’s signing was much heralded, when it was first announced by Liverpool on their own website, in 2017, that they’d done a deal with RB Leipzig to bring in the midfielder for the 2018/19 season.

After a bright start, the Guinean international has since struggled to hold down a place in Jurgen Klopp’s starting line up.

Last season’s midfield trio of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum have proven a tough act to dislodge at the moment.

Fellow newcomers Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho have also struggled for starts but they both give The Reds different midfield options. Swiss star Shaqiri gives them an attacking threat and creative outlet, while former AS Monaco man Fabinho adds height and strong defensive attributes to the engine room.

Naby still seems to be a player looking to find his calling in this current Liverpool team and fit into their playing style.

The twenty-three year old hasn’t been the dynamic force he was in the Bundesliga. Last term; he scored six goals and made five assists in twenty-three starts. The midfielder enjoyed a passing success rate of 81.4% and would on average make 2.4 tackles per league outing.

According to Whoscored, most of those stats have suffered with his move to Anfield. The Guinean has actually improved his passing success rate to an impressive 87% but he’s not as eager in the tackle, nor is he making the same amount of key passes or taking as many shots at goal.

Now a big issue has been his role at Liverpool. At Leipzig, Keita played as a box-to-box central midfielder. While in Merseyside Naby has often found himself playing on the left, usually in a midfield three.

With Sadio Mane playing ahead of him and Andrew Robertson continuously pushing forward on the left flank, it’s left the midfielder slightly confused by his role in the team. He’ll either push out onto the wing, if Mane goes inside, or he will hold himself back if he notices a Scots full-back rampage beyond him on the lefthand side.

The confusion in Keita’s play has seen Klopp take him out of the team. Naby has started eight Premier League games out of a possible twenty-one, he’s also made a further six appearances from the bench. Although it should be noted that he also picked up a muscular problem while away on international duty and that injury has impacted on his start to life in the English top flight.

People might question the big summer signing and others might be underwhelmed by his performances thus far but the midfielder has shown promise.

In early December, Keita played the full ninety minutes in The Reds away win over Burnley and he helped boss the game. Interestingly in that fixture the player played as a central midfielder in a midfield four. He had the most shots of anyone on the park and made the most amount of tackles out of any player in a Liverpool shirt.

The former Leipzig man is also still very efficient with the ball and isn’t scared to have it in his possession or move it on to a teammate better placed.

Ultimately though I believe the player just needs time to adapt to his new surroundings. Klopp constantly takes new recruits out of his team as he prepares them for life as a Liverpool stalwart. It’s worked magnificently well with Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the past. It also seems to be working wonders with Shaqiri and Fabinho, who are both now pushing for regular starts in the first eleven.

The Reds manager is a huge fan of Naby Keita’s, that’s why he waited a full year to sign the impressive midfield star.

The German coach told LiverpoolFC.com that the player is still a great talent and that he’s just settling into life as a Liverpool player:

“With Naby, and I spoke to him, everything is fine and I am completely happy. Could he be a bit more confident in the games? Yes. Is he exactly the player [he was] in his best time at Leipzig? No, but he’s still adapting, that’s how it is. But everybody saw it how brilliant he played in the first part [of the season]. Tottenham was a fantastic game of him without thinking too much, and then we made a change I think around the PSG game and the boys have to deal with it. Then a little injury here, a little injury there and it was kind of a little setback.”

But he is a fantastic player and I’m really happy to have him here. It’s so good and I am really looking forward to our common future because see if you see it every day, wow, there is so much to come and so much influence he can have on each game”

I think the Liverpool faithful trust Jurgen Klopp fully and I think they’ll believe that Naby Keita will come good.

If the international midfielder can rediscover his dynamic, industrious best for the title run-in then the Merseyside giants could have another big game player on their hands and that might take them closer to their first Premier League triumph!